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The Internet Wireless Networking Technology

WISPS Mean Cable and DSL Aren't the Only Choices 256

Posted by timothy
from the ephemeral-connection dept.
Brett Glass writes "Feel like you're stuck with a no-win choice between expensive cable modem service and slow DSL for Internet? Currently using satellite, with long latencies that make it impossible to do VoIP or interactive gaming? One of America's best kept secrets, so it seems, is the wide coverage of WISPs — terrestrial (not satellite or cellular) wireless broadband Internet providers. The linked article gives an overview of WISPs and provides a handy map showing their nationwide coverage (more than 750,000 square miles of the continental US — and only about one third of the WISPs in the US are on the map so far). Most WISPs are small, independent, consumer-friendly, and tech savvy, making them a better choice than big, corporate ISPs who can't even tell a penny from a dollar."
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WISPS Mean Cable and DSL Aren't the Only Choices

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  • They work well too (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Codex_of_Wisdom (1222836) on Friday February 06, 2009 @07:37AM (#26750417)
    I'm on a WISP and it's great. I'm in a rural area, so it was either that or satellite, and, as previously stated, satellite is not good for online gaming. With WISP though, I still have latencies in the 100 range. It's nice. /babbling
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Dialup costs me just $7.
      DSL costs me just $15.
      How much is the Wireless Service Provider?

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by the_crowbar (149535)

        It must be nice to have such cheap internet. I happen to live in the only state shown with no WISP coverage. High speed internet links here are ridiculous.

        I have two options:

        1) AT&T (formerly BellSouth). If you have a land line you can get 768k/128k for $19.99/month, but you must have a land line which adds another $15+/month. Naked DSL is available, but the cheapest price is $34.95/month for 1.5M/256k.

        2) Charter cable offers internet by itself. Their minimum advertised speed is 5M. The price is almost

        • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Friday February 06, 2009 @09:00AM (#26750981) Journal

          >>>It must be nice to have such cheap internet.

          If I can get Netscape dialup for 7 dollars a month, you should be able to get it too. As for DSL, I think part of Obama's stimulus bill should include a requirement for ALL phone lines to be upgraded to DSL, if the customer requests it. So you'd simply call-up your Baby Bell, and they'd be forced to upgrade the line for DSL capability. The costs of the upgrade could be funded by the Universal Access Fee.

          Upgrading existing phone lines is the quickest-and-easiest way to provide broadband to virtually everybody.

          >>>AT&T (formerly BellSouth). If you have a land line you can get 768k/128k for $19.99/month, but you must have a land line which adds another $15+/month.

          What's wrong with that? The prices are different ($15 and $5 respectively), but it sounds similar to my setup with Verizon. Oh and yes you can stream video over a 750k line. I just finished watching Live CNN this morning, while downloading Saw 5 in the background. Plenty of speed.

          For comparison the Wireless ISP in my town costs $300 a month. Ouch.

          • If I wanted a phone line I would get AT&T with their DSL package. I do not want a phone line. I have two cell phones and my wife has two as well. We don't need any more phones. I just want fast (I take online college courses and dialup is just painful), always on, reasonably priced internet. I used to live in Charlotte, NC and internet there was much cheaper. The company I work for has 66 retail stores in two states. I see first hand that the prices for phone and internet are cheaper where there is more
            • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

              >>>I would get AT&T with their DSL package. I do not want a phone line.
              >>>I just want fast, always on, reasonably priced internet.

              I have a phone line; I love it; it works even when the snow or ice topples the power lines. Cellphones do not (no power == no receiving tower == no service). But anyway..... Because you have this weird fetish against phone lines or DSL lines, you expect your neighbors to cough-up money from their wallets and BUY YOU a wireless upgrade (aka "stimulus pac

              • by T-Bone-T (1048702)

                There is nothing weird about not wanting a land line in addition to multiple cell phones. Everbody that wants to talk to me or my wife have our cell phone numbers and use those. A land line is simply redundant and very limited. I had a land line for a few months after I first moved out and only used it twice. My cell phone was far more convenient.

        • "The only state with no WISP coverage?" There is none. The map only shows about 1/3 of all WISPs. I've been to South Carolina -- the one state on the map that currently has no yellow blobs -- and walked into the office of a WISP on Hilton Head island. They were serving residences, businesses, and at least one coffeehouse.... I guess they haven't reported their coverage yet. Again, two thirds of the WISPs out there are still not on the map!
          • South Carolina may have WISP service in areas. The map linked in the article showed none. I went out and Googled for some that serve where I live. I found none for residential service. I did see a couple that stated for businesses only and looked no further into them. I did find one (www.scwireless.net) that serves an area not that far from me, but much farther than what 802.11b/g can cover.

            I live in the upstate area (north west corner). The situation on the coast is much different. The company I work for h

        • "I don't need 10M+ speeds, but it is nice to have if I watch streaming video or other things requiring greater bandwidths. I do not download music and movies illegally, but I do grab iso images of Linux discs regularly."

          "Hi I'm The_crowbar and I'm a Linux ISO addict."

          • Maybe I am an ISO addict, but every 6 months Ubuntu comes out with a new release and I try out the betas as well. It is nice to have them download in only a few minutes. I also keep bittorrent open so others can get them quickly as well.

            Cheers,
            the_crowbar

      • Hmmm. $300 in my area. Pass.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Igarden2 (916096)
        My wireless is $29.95 and much faster than dialup. In my location (rural) I'm told DSL is not going to happen. Cable isn't even nearby.
      • There's no one price for WISP service. Some are below DSL; some are above but give you more.
    • by ByOhTek (1181381)

      As with the other guy, I ask, what's the price?

      I looked at the article, and was amused:

      > One of the most common claims made by proponents
      > of government regulation of the Internet (AKA
      > âoenetwork neutralityâ) is that it is necessary
      > because broadband is a duopoly. At best, these
      > people claim, most US residents have a choice
      > between the telephone company and the cable
      > company; thatâ(TM)s it.

      I'm not in a huge city (Columbus Ohio), but we have a large number of ISPs.

      Cab

      • by jeffmeden (135043)
        You do realize that, if you are lucky, you have the choice between ONE of those Cable providers and ONE of those DSL providers? In some cases there is shared space on the cable side, WOW vs. Time Warner is what comes up most often, and that's only in areas that don't have an exclusive agreement with one particular provider (like almost all apartment groups, some municipalities even.) And to answer your question, most all WISPs do use 802.11 of some sort, since the equipment is cheap and the RF space is fr
        • by fm6 (162816)

          In some cases there is shared space on the cable side,

          Some cases. Not a lot. I'm surprised there are any. Cable companies are not anxious to support their own competition, and have successfully fought efforts to require them to share their infrastructure. Except, I guess, in some locales, including yours.

      • Yes most people on the east and west coasts have multiple options:

        - Dialup (many, many companies)
        - Cable
        - DSL
        - FiOS
        - Satellite
        - Cellular

        Some of these like dialup may be slow, but if you're just reading email or listening to music, you don't need anything faster. Also I'd like to see Cable monopolies removed, and instead run Comcast, Time-Warner, Cox, and Charter run to every home. There's enough room underground to supply 4-5 cables, and thereby let the homeowner have the Power of choice. ("Libertarians

        • by jeffmeden (135043)

          Also I'd like to see Cable monopolies removed, and instead run Comcast, Time-Warner, Cox, and Charter run to every home. There's enough room underground to supply 4-5 cables, and thereby let the homeowner have the Power of choice.

          Good idea! While we are at it, I think we should run a subway (The mass transit, not the sandwich) underground to everyone's front yard. After all, there's enough room underground for 4 or 5 subway lines under everyone's yard.

          What's that? Trillions in cost for a marginal benefit? Oh, right, free choice isn't the ultimate answer after all.

          The government owns the roads, the sewers, the schools, libraries, forms of protection (police, fire, etc) and even the air waves, why not let them be responsible for t

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by mweather (1089505)
            You're right. Let's just run one wire, but let any Cable company that want to use it, use it.
            • That won't work.

              The existing Comcast cable is already "full" from 30 megahertz all the way into the gigahertz range. If you want to add Time-Warner or Cox to consumers' choices, you will need to run a second and third cable. Just snake it in parallel to the existing Comcast line, through the existing metal pipe. Simple.

              • by mweather (1089505)
                Simple solution: make it illegal for cable providers to elevate their own video traffic above the likes of Youtube. Let the users decide what gets the bandwidth.
                • by Big Boss (7354)

                  Another one, fiber. You can push more data through a fiber than a coax, it doesn't cost much more to run, probably less if you calculate it per mbit/sec. And you can run a bundle of them at once to get a lot of bang for your buck.

                • I like my solution better. We live in an advanced-technocracy. There's no reason why the pipe under the street should only have 1 television cable inside it. It could easily handle 4, 5, or maybe even 6 TV cables running in parallel.

                  Not only do I envision a future with 500 channels, I envision a future with half-a-dozen cable companies, all competing to get your business.

          • >>>Good idea! While we are at it, I think we should run a subway

            Strawman argument (poor debating tactic). At no time did I propose running a subway that requires about 30-feet diameter pipe. What *I* proposed is running 4 or 5 cables in parallel, which only requires a pipe 3-4 inches in diameter. The pipe is already there with the Comcast cable, so all you need to do is add Time-Warner, Cox, Charter in parallel. That is a very workable solution to break th back of Comcast's monopoly.

            >>

        • by noewun (591275)

          Yes most people on the east and west coasts have multiple options:

          SOME people have options. I live in Manhattan, which means either Verizon or Time Warner owns all the infrastructure underneath me. Because of this I only really have two options for broadband. One is DSL through Verizon or through another provider which leases lines from Verizon and the other is cable through Time Warner or another provider which leases from Time Warner. And, remember, this isn't just a city on the east coast, this is the bi

          • by Ihmhi (1206036)

            as I've been with them forever and have had the same email address since ethernet packets were made of steam and pigeons.

            I would question the common sense of a Slashdotter who makes use of an e-mail address tied to his ISP.

            I've had the offer to use one from my ISP (since I'm one of their customers, of course), but I always use external sources or ones based off of websites I own.

      • WISPs use a variety of radio technologies. Some are based on 802.11 standards (but not used the same way you use them within your house). Some are based on 802.16 (WiMAX). Some are unique to the manufacturer of the equipment (e.g. Motorola's "Canopy" system). Most do not use cellular technologies like 3G or 4G or LTE, but it's possible. Some mix and match, using whichever equipment works best in the area. The same goes for radio frequencies; nearly all WISPs use the unlicensed bands, but they'll use differe
      • by edmicman (830206)

        Conversely, I live in mid-Michigan, in a city 20 minutes from the capital and right along an interstate, and have
        Cable:
        --local cable company that makes Comcast's rates and service offerings look good

        DSL:
        --AT&T

        And then there's dialup if I don't want broadband, and satellite internet if I want to pay $$$ for slower access than the DSL offers.

        Granted, I think the Lansing area gets Comcast, and AT&T's UVerse is starting to appear in West and East Michigan, but still. I would think having 7 options for

        • >>>Cable:
          >>>--local cable company that makes Comcast's rates and service offerings look goo

          You see this is why we need to elminate the cable monopolies, and allow 4 or 5 cables to run in parallel. There's no reason why the big fat pipe under your street only hold One cable. It could easily carry 4 or 5 cables, and then you'd have Choice. And more importantly, competition which will reduce rates.

          The government should also forbid companies like NBC-Universal or ABC-Disney or FOX from bund

  • by gandhi_2 (1108023) on Friday February 06, 2009 @07:37AM (#26750419) Homepage
    ..are pretty good alternatives except the "burst speed" thing. Its like they never heard of CISR or simply oversell bandwidth like every other ISP.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      My building has a deal with a WISP. Free internet in the lobby and a pair of APs on each floor above for subscribers. Off peak hours are OK and it's cheap, but generally too congested to stream video or game on. Also, If you download more than 2GB they drop your speed to 128K for the rest of the month.

      Lastly, they require a periodic web based login to use the service, so even though I bridged in my LAN to their AP, computers on my LAN often failed to perform late night updates and automated functions, which

      • If you have wide open Wi-Fi, it doesn't make a difference if your bandwidth is provided by a WISP, DSL, or cable. It's going to be overloaded because too many people will try to use it or people will try to overuse it and exhaust the bandwidth. The downloaders will have a field day. I would not blame the WISP for the problems you're seeing. It would be like blaming the power company when you plug too many appliances into one circuit and blow a circuit breaker in your home.
        • "It would be like blaming the power company when you plug too many appliances into one circuit and blow a circuit breaker in your home."

          But, but, they promised me an unlimited connection.

  • by drunkennewfiemidget (712572) on Friday February 06, 2009 @07:46AM (#26750463) Homepage

    I look forward to the day when I can tell the incumbent cable provider (Rogers Cable) here in Canada to go fuck themselves with a chainsaw.

    Them and their, "we're upping your price for the second time this year", and "you're on our do-not-market-to list, but we'll just send you all sorts of spam and upgrade offers along with the semi-annual price increase letter!", and their overall scummy existence.

    • TekSavvy (Score:4, Informative)

      by mrops (927562) on Friday February 06, 2009 @09:01AM (#26751001)

      TekSavvy, THE best ISP I have had in a long time. Everything is upfront, they do not throttle (though those on slashdot may have heard that Bell is throttling all ISP that go over their lines, bitches). You can get their 200GB/mn or unlimited (true unlimited). Static IP addresses for 3$/mn, MLPPP. Love their tech support, one of the few companies where using "tech" is justified.

      If you can't get DSL, tough luck. TekSavvy does provide WISP in certain areas.

      • The only problem is that it is pricier if you're doing Rogers Internet+TV (and possibly because we have two cell plans).

        But then again, it's only 30$/mo for 5mbps. I'll have to see how much we've being charged for Roger's service, but considering we have to rent the modem under rogers, if Teksavvy is stuck for a long time, you see the prices stabilise after a year.

        Where they really grind my gears, though, is with cable TV. 61$ a fucking month for channels that used to come with the basic plan. At least the

    • I recently changed from Verizon to Charter for my phone, television and internet. I was quoted a price of $70 a month but when the first bill arrived it was actually $90 a month as there are about $20 a month in fees and taxes. And that is only for the first year after which it will go up at least $10. I can not believe how expensive 911 calls are. In my case it would be cheaper for me if they charged me a $100 a minute for each call as I use it about once a decade. This is insane as internet and phone
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by flyingfsck (986395)
      Complaining about Rogers? Gee, you haven't used Telus apparently...
    • by compro01 (777531)

      I'm personally on Sasktel's wireless here (2M/256K for $60/month or 3M/640K for $300, though the latter one is their business version, which comes with an SLA). Cable and DSL are non-existent here (Tiny village of less than 100 people 15 miles from the nearest city, so anyone with basic math skills can see it's not even close to cost effective.), so there's Sasktel's wireless, 2 or 3 other wireless companies (All of which are slower, more expensive, and restricted in various ways (no servers, transfer caps

    • by jabithew (1340853)

      I love Britain. My ISP contacts me to tell me they're cutting prices. Only every couple of years, but last time was from GBP24 to GBP18 a month.

      So at this rate in six years my broadband will be free. Maybe.

  • by Rogerborg (306625) on Friday February 06, 2009 @07:48AM (#26750473) Homepage
    Yes, the link provides a great advert for the robustness and professionalism of WISPS...
  • by wiredog (43288) on Friday February 06, 2009 @07:48AM (#26750475) Journal

    From these guys [infowest.com]. It's purely line of sight [infowest.com], of course, but most of the town is line of sight to the tower. Works very well even in heavy snow, which Cedar gets quite a bit of. An average storm in Cedar would be apocalyptic in London,England.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by gandhi_2 (1108023)
      The only problem with Infowest is their incomprehensibly, um... "diverse" pricing plans.
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Entropy98 (1340659)

        For an extra $2 they'll even clean the internet!
         
        --
          mafia rpg [mafia-rpg.com]

      • by wiredog (43288)

        Incomprehensible? 3 options, with cost directly related to speed,Dad went with the 1.5Mbit. Looks pretty comprehensible to me. Especially compared to the bundles that the local cable and telcos offer where I live. Those require a good spreadsheet ot track.

  • Poorly done (Score:3, Insightful)

    by iYk6 (1425255) on Friday February 06, 2009 @08:00AM (#26750543)

    That map is pretty much useless. I looked at it, and there are tiny yellow spots in my state of Oregon, as well as every other state. Unfortunately, the cities are not marked, so I can't tell if those yellow spots cover my city or not. Fail.

    • by genner (694963)

      That map is pretty much useless. I looked at it, and there are tiny yellow spots in my state of Oregon, as well as every other state. Unfortunately, the cities are not marked, so I can't tell if those yellow spots cover my city or not. Fail.

      I found it usefull. No yellow in SC.
      I'm going to go cry in a corner now.

      • There's no yellow on the map in SC yet, but there are certainly WISPs in SC. I've met two of them. The map is still a work in progress; it's only about one third done yet.
    • by Da_Biz (267075)

      Unfortunately, the cities are not marked, so I can't tell if those yellow spots cover my city or not.
      Not so hard to figure out what to do next: http://tinyurl.com/afjvct [tinyurl.com]

  • Price and Speed suck (Score:5, Informative)

    by Jackiesaurus (1147839) on Friday February 06, 2009 @08:02AM (#26750567)

    Yeah, WISPS are great aside from the high prices and slow speed. We have a few carriers around here, installation is generally around $150, plus $60/month for a 512/512 or $100 for a 3M/3M.

    My $45/month cable modem for 15M/1M starts to sound pretty good after that.

    I've looked at starting my own in another area a while ago but unfortunately the high equipment prices, insanely high bandwidth prices (which you usually need to buy from your competitors), and limitations of the equipment relative to going wired means that to stay afloat you really need to charge high prices like I mentioned for a relatively slim amount of bandwidth. I've also read stories where the plot goes something like "people want broadband, WISP sets up and prospers, cable company sees success of WISP, cable company sets up broadband for half the monthly rate, WISP dies". It's scary stuff considering how much the WISP equipment costs and how long it would take to actually payoff.

    All in all, I don't see how a WISP can really survive against the traditional competition. Personally I'm a big fan of municipal fiber, but that's a rant for another day.

    • by rubycodez (864176)

      512kb/s is plenty for people who aren't movie watchers or gamers or P2Pers, for $60 much better than a 28k - 56k phone modem and magnificent compared to nothing at all. A person could even download their distro's CD ISOs with that kind of connection.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by mspohr (589790)
      I have used a WISP for the past few years because it was the only option. Unfortunately, my experience has been the same... high prices ($60/mo.), slow speed (512/512), bandwidth caps (5 Gig/mo), frequent outages, high latency.

      Fortunately, ATT just installed a DSL substation across the street from me (I was formerly 18000 ft from central office) and now I can get their minimal package 1.5/0.5 for $15/mo.

      • We only did good in areas without DSL. If you couldn't get anything else, wireless is far better than a satellite.

        However, if an area we serviced suddenly got DSL, we lost most of our customers in that area.

        And let me tell you, DSL is only going to grow.

        Also, a WISP usually gets its bandwidth from the same phone company that has DSL in an area. So the phone company wins either way.

        It is VERY hard to compete against a phone company.

        • Our WISP often gets customers who are tired of DSL. As we finish installing the antenna on their roofs, they say, "Thank you! We're calling the telephone company now to cut off our land line."

          One of the things that WISPs do is enable people to "cut the cord."

    • by c (8461) <beauregardcp@gmail.com> on Friday February 06, 2009 @08:43AM (#26750841)

      > I don't see how a WISP can really survive against the traditional competition.

      Well, they can't. But, then, what kind of moron is going to target a WISP at a market where they'd go against traditional competition (if you can call the local telco and cable monopolies "competition")?

      I'm on a WISP and while the speeds aren't anywhere near the DSL I used to have in town, the only other option where I live is dial-up. On rural phone lines. Maxing out at about 28kbps. If you want to talk about price and speed sucking, I can tell you all about it. I did the dial-up thing for a bit after being on DSL for years, and it's almost bearable if you have a second phone line, a dedicated dial-up server/router, a wireless LAN, and you know how to batch downloads at night.

      Well, fuck that. As soon as they stuck their gear on the nearest tower, I was signed up. For maybe $200 installation costs and $50/month (which is about $5 more than dial-up and a second phone line), I get well over 20x dial-up speeds and all I have to worry about is the occasional drop out due to weather and tower maintenance.

      If you live anywhere close to a DSL or cable operation, a WISP is a terrible choice. Anywhere else, it's a no-brainer.

    • Yeah, WISPS are great aside from the high prices and slow speed. We have a few carriers around here, installation is generally around $150, plus $60/month for a 512/512 or $100 for a 3M/3M.

      Not necessarily that expensive. I'm using a WiMax provider [p1.com.my] as a backup for my sometimes-flaky ADSL connection; it's cheap enough that it's worth it in order to be sure I can get online when I need to. $30/month for 1200/500 with 20GB cap (after which the speed drops to 400kbps down for the rest of the month).

      It's been mo

    • by fm6 (162816)

      Personally I'm a big fan of municipal fiber, but that's a rant for another day.

      No, I think we need to start ranting about it now. The lack of competition and infrastructure in the U.S. ISP marketplace is just plain humliating.

  • Astroturfing? (Score:5, Informative)

    by lseltzer (311306) on Friday February 06, 2009 @08:07AM (#26750599)

    Perhaps the post is informative and useful, but y'all should know that Brett Glass [is] a sole proprietor doing business as LARIAT, a wireless Internet service provider in Albany County, Wyoming, [brettglass.com]

    • No one is "astroturfing." WISPs have gone unnoticed for far too long on the national scene, and it's time to make them known as a viable alternative to the big cable and telephone companies. WISPs are the real grass roots; mine is locally run, locally operated, and not a franchise or chain. Think of us like the Whos in "Horton Hears a Who" -- we're shouting, "We are here!"
  • That didn't take long. Slashdot strikes again.

  • I know there are plenty of people who have trouble with calculus and other higher forms of math. But, it's scary to think that the difference between $0.002 and 0.002c is well understood!

    No wonder the guy posted the phone call on YouTube.

  • Worst map ever (Score:3, Interesting)

    by T-Bone-T (1048702) on Friday February 06, 2009 @08:33AM (#26750763)

    Which WISPs serve my coverage area? Is it even more than one?

  • by lazarus (2879) on Friday February 06, 2009 @08:54AM (#26750915) Journal

    My experience has been quite the opposite of the story summary. I've been on a line-of-sight wireless connection for two and a half years now, with two different providers and two different frequencies (900 MHz and 2.4 GHz). I have found the service to be slow and unreliable, and I live on farmland (no trees, mountains, large buildings, etc. To get in the way). The most I can say about my current provider is the service sucks less than the first one. In that case it was so bad I was able to get out of a 3yr contract.

    The speed (as mentioned in a previous post) is very slow - VPN access to the office is *just* do-able, but don't try to do anything else at the same time. You can play on-line games such as WoW and Eve without much trouble from a latency standpoint, but having your link go down is not fun.

    I have an unlimited cellular data plan I keep as a backup and I am working with my local council to get better broadband penetration in my area.

    • Just a tip. If anyone out there has established a line-of-sight wireless connection, but then finds trees, mountains, large buildings, etc. getting in the way, something has gone terribly wrong. You are either experiencing a severe earthquake, or your house is being towed.

      I suggest that you gather more data by looking out the window.

      • Just a tip. If anyone out there has established a line-of-sight wireless connection, but then finds trees, mountains, large buildings, etc. getting in the way, something has gone terribly wrong. You are either experiencing a severe earthquake, or your house is being towed.

        I suggest that you gather more data by looking out the window.

        Considering the mortgage default rate, I'd say the latter.

    • by djh101010 (656795)
      My WISP (in south-eastern Wisconsin) is absolutely horrible. They've improved over the last 6 months to lousy, to be fair, but there are problems - some fixable, some not.

      They're a small shop. So small that at 6:00:00 PM on weekdays, the phones go into "Hello, we're closed" mode. Even for the support number. Of course, they have second shift techs doing things, like upgrading firmware on my personally owned "paddle" (without notifying me or seeing if I was using it), which several times ended up with a
  • by necro81 (917438) on Friday February 06, 2009 @08:55AM (#26750933) Journal
    I'm going to put in my grumpy old man dentures and rant on for a moment:

    For f$ck's sake, if you are submitting an article with an acronym in it, expand it the first time so that everyone knows what the hell you are talking about. This goes not only for slashdot, but for articles in all technical venues. In some tight technical circles, some assumed knowledge and common language can be expected, but /. is a broad audience, and not everyone knows at first glance what a WISP is. This is specially true when used in the context of an article that is probably introducing it to people for the first time.
    • by canajin56 (660655)
      The summary says "WISPs - terrestrial (not cellular or satellite) Wireless broadband Internet Service Providers". For fucks sake, if you're bitching about a summary not explaining an acronym, at least read the summary. Granted it's not until the second sentence, but it's still there. Wireless ISP. WISP.
  • I looked into Xohm, the one in my area. Verizon beat their monthly deal at 3Mbps, and has free equipment sorry to say (Xohm's is $40-90). It's funny. Since their physical infrastructure costs so much less you'd think they would try to be competitive :-/

    meh

    It'd be nice to be wireless but I have so much better stuff to do than to get any use out of a wireless MAN. My laptop never leaves my desk at work.

    -Viz

  • by Gramie2 (411713) on Friday February 06, 2009 @09:08AM (#26751057)

    There is a WISP in my area, but their service guy said that he couldn't get a clear enough signal from my roof. If I put up a 40-foot tower, I *might* be able to get it (people down the road do). Aside from the tower, that would be about $300 installation and $60/month, with a maximum speed of about 3Mbps download.

    Turns out that I can get on the Rogers cell phone 3G network. The bandwidth is limited (1GB/month for $30, 3GB/month for $60), but I can live with that. There was no installation fee (wireless USB stick was free with 1-year contract) either.

    • Pity they can't get the people down the street to act as a relay, perhaps even offer them free access so a few more homes got access at normal rates.

  • by Huntr (951770) on Friday February 06, 2009 @09:14AM (#26751129)
    That blurb in the summary about showing their "nationwide coverage" makes this seem a lot more widely available than it really is. As the image in the linked article show, 750k sq mi isn't shit, particularly when the primary areas this purports to service, those who live out in the boonies, are barely covered at all. Good to know you can get this kind of service in such remote areas as Sacramento, Ca, Dallas, Tx, Atlanta, Ga, and Chicago, Il. Further, as stated above, the submitter and article author owns a fricking ISP that provides WiFi in Wyoming. This is the worst kind of misleading advertising masquerading as news on Slashdot.
    • Actually, WISPs cover more homes throughout the United States than DSL and cable combined. My WISP specializes in covering rural users who are 10 to 20 miles farther out than these services reach. And yet, we also get many customers in the city who have both of the other options; they just don't want to deal with the phone or cable company. This is proof that our service is competitive; if it weren't, these users could switch in a heartbeat. But they love us. No, WISPs don't cover every nook and cranny of
    • by Brett Glass (98525) on Friday February 06, 2009 @10:58AM (#26752919) Homepage
      Thank you for your, er, kind words. The purpose of posting the link to Slashdot isn't advertising; it's to raise awareness. Most people don't realize that they have alternatives to the cable companies and telephone companies.

      As for coverage: WISPs cover more of the area of the US than cable modem and DSL combined; we also serve more of the population. And we're growing as fast as we can to cover more. But most WISPs are self-financed and not public companies, so folks have to know about us and patronize us before we can build out.

  • Do your research (Score:3, Informative)

    by Tinfoil (109794) on Friday February 06, 2009 @09:22AM (#26751197) Homepage Journal

    Depending on the technology, there are many things to consider before jumping into bed with a WISP. I get my service from an ISP with a wireless division, though it's not their core business. From my understanding, the technology used is a mix of 900Mhz and 2.4Ghz, depending on distance & line of site. The closer and clearer the LoS, the more likely they will put up a 2.4Ghz antenna. Otherwise, it's 900Mhz. Often it requires mounting on an antenna tower, unless it's cellular based.

    Problems I've had with it are mostly related to bandwidth saturation. Quite often these wireless PoPs will be piggybacking on one another to a central location, so unless it's properly provisioned, be prepared to be frustrated. Also, many times the WISP will put their tower on a pre-existing structure and depending on security situations, they may not be allowed to go on-site unless the owners of the property are also on-site. Think places like central grain storage co-ops and the like.

    My connection is a pretty poor value. I pay roughly CDN$70 for a connection that is, at most, 1Mbit. The upside is that it is synchro, so while my downstream is pretty low, my upstream is better than most. Ping times are all over the place, but that is more a function of an over-subscribed service than anything else.

    Cellular based technologies are available here, but the caps are dangerously low with overages being charged at a pretty obscene rate. And it doesn't work with my pre-existing router, which is a big negative for me. Rogers Wireless is I think $25 a month, but that's for only 500MB if memory serves. I can't verify this at present since the Rogers website sucks hairy arse.

  • I used to work for a dialup ISP that broke into the wireless market--fair enough, it was a rural area with no prospects at the time for DSL or cable.

    Too bad it was hilly and heavily forested. Service calls got real interesting once people who had great signal in the dead of winter had all the trees on their property burst into leaf.

    Besides that, they crammed all their customers onto a pair of T1s (the connection was unimpressive in performance to say the least) which brings me to another question--in an are

  • Aren't WISPS line of sight? My metro area has a few offerings, none of which I can get. Yay Comcast and AT&T...
    • WISPs are not always "line of sight." They use different radio technologies, some of which require a line of sight and some of which do not. Check with the provider.
  • by Dekortage (697532) on Friday February 06, 2009 @09:50AM (#26751537) Homepage
    This [part-15.org] seemed useful...
  • While cable does have a higher performance ceiling, at the most common price point for cable there is a comparable DSL alternative that is the same speed. At least, where I live there is. The "standard" cable package is 7 Mb/s for $40/mo. The "premium" DSL package is 6 MB/s for $35/mo. So unless you're paying extra for "premium" cable, you could do about as well with DSL.

  • Of particular interest are eastern Idaho, western Nebraska, southern Utah, northeastern Indiana, and northern lower Michigan [wirelessmapping.com]. What are those -- the most populated areas that the major carriers are underserving?

  • Is rather massive in comparison to the rest of the Union, with the exception of Georgia.

    This tells me how much the state has let the telecoms allow the state's infrastructure to rot.

  • by Bearhouse (1034238) on Friday February 06, 2009 @10:41AM (#26752531)

    Long-range wifi with consumer stuff can work.
    I built one for giggles (USB wifi key on old sat dish) and picked up my home signal from miles away... Wife promptly banned me from surfing web during family picnic :(

    Many sites with 'how tos', for example here:
    See here, for ex: http://www.engadget.com/2005/11/15/how-to-build-a-wifi-biquad-dish-antenna/ [engadget.com]

    People have claimed for than 125 mi LOS with bigger stuff.

    All you need is a friend in line of sight with broadband. (OK, a big 'if' in hilly country, but you can always hide a passve repeater in a tree on top of a hill. Again, see instructions on web)

  • Im personnally a WISP in Quebec Canada. I install in 2006 some wifi network in Cameroon. And when i return back i decide to offer the service here where is not available or where the service is really poor. I got some village that switch from dsl to me because the dsl service is terrible. I was not thinking make a lot of money on this but it's more a defy then anything. I see some wisp that share their cable modem to offer high speed. You cannot get a good result with this kind of access. Be a wisp is the h

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